Baton Rouge shooting kills 3 officers, wounds 3 others
Published 3:34 pm Sunday, July 17, 2016
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Three law enforcement officers were killed and three others wounded Sunday morning in a shooting at a gas station in Baton Rouge, less than two weeks after a black man was shot and killed by police here.
One suspect in the shooting was killed and authorities believe two others might still be at large, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office. The city was on high alert, officials said.
The shooting was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States — and second in Baton Rouge — involving police over the past two weeks. The violence has left 12 people dead, including eight police officers, and sparked a national conversation over race and policing.
The races of the suspects and the officers in Sunday’s shooting were not immediately known.
The shooting began just before 9 a.m., at a gas station on Airline Highway, less than 1 mile from police headquarters, police said. The slain shooter’s body was next door, outside a fitness center. Police said they were using a specialized robot to check for explosives near the body.
Gov. John Bel Edwards rushed to the hospital where the shot officers were taken.
“Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice,” Edwards said in a statement.
On Sunday afternoon, more than a dozen police cars with lights flashing were massed near a commercial area of car dealerships and chain restaurants on Airline Highway, not far from police headquarters. Police armed with long guns stopped at least two vehicles driving away from the scene and checked their trunks.
That area was about a quarter of a mile from a gas station where almost nightly protests had been taking place against the recent police shooting.
Five law enforcement officers were rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Ashley Mendoza said. Of the two who survived the shooting, one was in critical condition and the other was in fair condition. Multiple police vehicles were station at the hospital and a police officer with a long gun was blocking the parking lot at the emergency room.
One officer was sent to Baton Rouge General Medical Center and was being treated for “non-life-threatening injuries,” said spokeswoman Meghan Parrish.
Officers and deputies from the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office were involved, according to Hicks.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white officers July 5 after a scuffle at a convenience store. The killing was captured on widely circulated cellphone video.
It was followed a day later by the shooting death of another black man in Minnesota, whose girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of his death on Facebook. The next day, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers and heightening tensions even further.
Thousands of people have protested Sterling’s death and Baton Rouge police arrested more than 200 demonstrators.
Michelle Rogers, 56, said Sunday the pastor at her church had led prayers Sunday for Sterling’s family and police officers, asking members of the congregation to stand up if they knew an officer.
Rogers said an officer in the congregation hastily left the church near the end of the service, and a pastor announced that “something had happened.”
“But he didn’t say what. Then we started getting texts about officers down,” she said.
Rogers and her husband drove near the scene, but were blocked at an intersection closed down by police.
“I can’t explain what brought us here,” she said. “We just said a prayer in the car for the families.”